B.J. Upton was out of the Braves’ lineup for the second time in three games Tuesday. Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez said he was trying to get Jordan Schafer some at-bats and penciled Schafer in batting seventh, playing center field.
“Good time of year to get your bench in there, get them some at-bats,” Gonzalez said.
But it also appears it’s the time of year when the Braves aren’t feeling as patient as they were earlier in the season with the struggles of both Upton and Dan Uggla at the plate. Upton was out of the lineup Tuesday, the same day the Braves approached Uggla about going forward with laser eye surgery and placed him on the disabled list. Tyler Pastornicky was recalled from Triple-A Gwinnett and given the start at second.
The lineup changes came after Uggla and Upton failed to drive in a runner from third base with less than two outs on back-to-back strikeouts in a 5-1 loss to the Phillies on Monday night. It was a scoring opportunity that could have changed the complexion of the game, Gonzalez acknowledged afterward.
Upton was coming off a good trip to Philadelphia and Washington, where he hit .476 (10-for-21) over a five-game hitting streak — including a four-hit game — to raise his season average to .198. Since the Braves returned home, though, Upton is 0-for-11 with six strikeouts and a sacrifice fly.
For the season Upton is hitting .096 (7-for-73) with runners in scoring position, worst in the majors among qualified players.
“Coming out of Washington I felt a lot better,” Upton said. “Even in Philly I felt a lot better. So I don’t know. (Sitting out) is not my call. I’m sure it’s just a day and I’ll be here, rooting my teammates on.”
Next spring: The Single-A Rome Braves announced that the Braves will play their annual exhibition game against their minor league prospects March 29 at State Mutual Stadium in Rome and then open the 2014 season in Philadelphia. (The official 2014 schedule hasn’t been released.) The exhibition game has been held twice at Coolray Field, home of the Gwinnett Braves, and this year it was in Pearl, Miss., home of the Braves’ Double-A affiliate. … Left-hander Paul Maholm is scheduled to throw six innings or 90 pitches Saturday in Rome in what is expected to be the only outing of a minor league rehabilitation assignment. If all continues to go well with his left wrist, Maholm could be worked back into the rotation during the Braves’ four-game series in St. Louis on Aug. 22-25. The Braves have begun discussing scenarios for what they’ll do with the rotation when he returns, but haven’t finalized any plans.